This man believes we can all live much longer lives, and he’s prepared to wager $1,000,000, as well as his reputation, that he will reach his 150th birthday.

Here at MHM we’re not usually given to assisting efforts at shameless self-promotion.

But sometimes those efforts are so shameless and self-serving, and so eagerly devoured by the media, that they deserve a little time.

Gerontology is the name coined in the early 20th Century by Russian scientist Ilya Mechnikov to describe the emerging study of the ageing process and its effect on individuals and society.

Biogerontology is a subdivision of this discipline and describes the study of this ageing process and its effect on the body to a cellular level.

Both terms were necessary to distinguish this field of research from geriatrics, which is the study and treatment of illnesses and conditions associated with old age.

They are both very serious areas of study and, particularly from the mid twentieth century onwards, have informed and developed our ideas on what ageing means and how to cope with it in our modern industrialised societies.

A surprising amount of research has also been done into reversing or preventing the ageing process, with the effect of extending our lifespans, but so far with little tangible success.

There have been a number of demonstrations of the alleged extension of longevity in some lower life forms such yeast, worms and fruit flies, and even in lower mammals like rats and mice, though nothing like a transferable stable solution.

Nonetheless the scientists involved in this field of study remain convinced that we will, within the next 25 years or so, develop substantial anti-ageing treatments which will lead to longer lives.

Dr Zhavoronkov is by no means isolated in his estimate of 150 year lifespan.

In fact he lies more or less at the centre of that spectrum of speculation ranging from a proposed upper limit of 92 as posited by US anatomist Leonard Hayflick (himself 87 at the time this article was written), to upwards of 200 years or longer.

British biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey has even suggested that the first human to live beyond a thousand years has already been born, since within the next 25 – 50 years we will have developed the ability to regenerate the elements of the body which typically fail as a result of the ageing process.

Where Dr Zavaronkov is an outlying voice, even in such a field of fairly outlandish prophets, is in his insistence that he has already developed the means to achieve this feat without any further scientific development or discovery.

But, would you believe it, he can't give us the exact details right now.

We do know he is unmarried, has no children and takes over 100 supplements daily to a strictly controlled diet and exercise regimen.

Perhaps he feels we're not ready.

In his book (of course there is a book) The Ageless Generation:  How Advances in Biomedicine Will Transform the Global Economy he argues that that the psychological impact of ageing is more limiting than the physical.

A variation on, "if you believe hard enough; it can happen".

He is, of course, also relying on medical science to find cures and treatments for the various ailments which might prevent his progress through to any grand old age between now and then

In January he bet a fellow gerontologist Dmitry Kaminskiy a million dollars that he would not only outlive his colleague but that he would reach his 150th birthday.

Or given his chosen lifestyle, maybe it will just feel like he’s lived a century and a half.

Mind you, I notice he is also the author of Dating AI, A Guide to Falling In Love with Artificial Intelligence, perhaps he and his hard drive are on to something after all.

At least the Telegraph, The Daily Mail and Metro all think so...

 

 

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